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Archive for the ‘December 2005’ Category

Some argue that computers and kids are a bad combination. In fact, 4 years ago , I myself did not allow my then 6 year old daughter to use it . But when I found some educational applications that I knew would help with her schooling, I knew it was time to let her try .

It can not be denied that kids are fascinated with computers. The best thing we parents can do for these fascinated kids is to moderate its use and to choose a suitable application for them .

One open source software that can develop your children’s creativity is a drawing application called Tux Paint. Tux Paint is designed for kids from 3 to 12 years old. It received many positive reviews since it was released in 2004, and had won several awards . It just keeps getting better!

Tux Paint has a very simple, very intuitive user interface. It is very entertaining too. It plays a catchy tune every time you open the application. My 3 year old daughter runs to the room whenever she hears this. It also has amusing sounds effects that are activated at the stroke of the paintbrush. A smaller paintbrush sounds off a high pitch while a thick paintbrush gives a low pitch.

It has some fun tools like the Stamp tool, a set of rubber stamps or stickers that lets you paste pre-drawn or photographic images like a picture of a butterfly, banana, or a spaceship in your picture. The Magic tool contains a set of special tools that change the way your drawing looks by adding effects or objects like grass. bricks, rainbow and sparkles.

The Main Screen is divided into the following sections: the toolbar (left) , selector (right) , canvas (middle) , color bar (bottom), help area (beneath the color bar).

The toolbar contains the tools you need to draw and edit. The selector contains options based on the toolbar. For example, when you select the Paint Brush tool on the toolbar, the different kinds of paint brushes appear on the selector.

The canvas is where you draw. The color bar, you guessed it, changes the color of the brush, stamps, and other tools. Below the color bar is where you will find Tux, the Linux Penguin, who provides some useful tips and information as you draw.

Loading and saving files is easy too. Kids do not have to specify a filename and a path, which often confuses young kids. Once the kids click the Save button and reaffirms the action by clicking on a check mark (for yes, I want to save it) or an x mark (for no, I do not want to save it), the drawing is saved. When the child clicks the “open” button, the thumbnails of previously saved photos appears. Kids just double click on the thumbnail to open it.

The canvas also has a predetermined size, so the kid doesn’t have to adjust the window size . There are no dialog boxes either, except for the check and x mark options when saving.

Printing a picture only takes two clicks. You can even disable printing or to allow printing once every few minutes. This is a great feature because it prevents kids from accidentally printing the drawing or prevents them from printing too often, when they get over excited with seeing their drawings on paper. Without it, you just might end up with mounds of colored drawings scattered all over the floor!

Another great feature is that you can run it in full screen mode. This prevents your kid from accidentally deleting or opening files on your desktop when he / she moves that mouse off the edge of the window. The quit button can also be disabled, so your kid won’t end up in tears after losing the work of art that he/she invested his efforts on.

Based on my opinion, Tux Paint is definitely the best drawing application for children. I mean, forget about awards. My kids love it, I do too. On top of that, it’s free. The latest release , Tux Paint 0.9.18 can be downloaded from

http://www.tuxpaint.org/download/

The requirements:

● any of the following operating systems: Linux, Mac (Intel and PPC), Windows (Windows95 through Vista) . It also runs on handheld devices like Sharp Zaurus PDAs that display 640 X 480 graphics and Nokia 770/800 packages
● an essential requirement : a kid in the house , or an adult with similar disposition.

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